President Trump publicly defended the racist tweets he posted against several congresswomen of color, launching into a lengthy tirade while speaking Monday at a “Made in America” event at the White House.
At one point, the president said he doesn’t mind that white nationalists found common cause with his xenophobic remarks because “many people agree with me.”
“They’re complaining all the time,” Trump opened up his tirade against Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), the four women of color known as The Squad, who have taken him to task over his immigration policies—specifically the inhumane conditions at migrant detention centers.
“Very simply, you can leave. You can leave right now. Come back if you want, don’t come back, that’s okay too. But if you’re not happy, you can leave,” Trump said Monday, reiterating his tweets over the weekend telling the congresswomen to “go back” to the countries they came from. “They can leave, and you know what? I’m sure that there will be many people that won’t miss them,” Trump added.
It is unclear where the president wants the lawmakers to return to, as all four of the women are United States citizens, and three of the four women were born stateside.
During his rant on Monday, the president singled out Rep. Omar, falsely claiming the Muslim congresswoman supports Al Qaeda, and referenced remarks she made about the importance of the Council on American-Islamic Relations after 9/11 that became conservative kindling earlier this year.
The president also implied that because Omar, a naturalized citizen, came to the U.S. as a refugee, she does not have the right to represent her adopted country. “In one case you have somebody who comes from Somalia—which is a failed government, a failed state—who left Somalia, who ultimately came here and now is a congresswoman, who’s never happy,” Trump said, referring to Omar.
He additionally accused Omar of hating Jewish people and attacked Rep. Ocasio-Cortez for working against Amazon in its desire to build its second headquarters in her native New York City.
Asked by Fox News reporter John Roberts whether it concerns him that “many people saw that tweet as racist and that white nationalist groups are finding common cause with you on that point,” Trump said: “It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me.”
Trump also made reference of his loyal supporter Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who earlier Monday backed the president’s racist tweets on Fox & Friends, calling the congresswomen in question “communists.”
“I’m saying that they’re socialists definitely,” the president said. “As to whether or not they’re communists, I would think they might be.”
However, Trump appeared to miss the point of Graham’s minor criticism of his tweets, in which the senator implored Trump to “aim higher... focus on their policies.”
“I disagree with Lindsey. These are congressmen. What am I supposed to do, wait for senators? No. So I disagree with Lindsey on that... he said ‘aim higher,’ shoot higher. What am I going to do, wait until we get somebody else in a higher position, higher office? These are people that hate our country. They hate our country. They hate it, I think, with a passion.”